Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 10:15 pm | Fair 66º


Tom Donohue: The Right Way to Reduce Health-Care Costs

Aside from repeal of the law, market-based solutions would increase competition and improve consumer choice

One of the bold — and broken — promises made by supporters of the health-care law was that it would reduce health-care costs and bring health spending under control. Though many provisions have yet to be implemented, health costs are actually rising, and they will continue to climb as other parts of the law, such as the employer mandate, take effect.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the law will increase federal health-care spending by nearly a half-trillion dollars over the next decade, and the Obama administration has acknowledged that the savings earmarked for Medicare will never materialize. Private employer health-care costs are also on the rise due, in part, to mandates already in place.

Today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition for Affordable Health Coverage are hosting a conference to discuss runaway health-care costs and market-based solutions. Two CAHC-sponsored reports being unveiled reveal that despite passage of major “reforms,” out-of-control medical spending is adversely affecting everything from national competitiveness and employment to living standards and wage growth.

If we don’t get health-care costs under control, our economic recovery will be further stalled when we should be doing everything to kick-start it. Obviously, a dramatic way to bring down health-care costs would be outright repeal of the law. The Chamber of Commerce opposed the law and would support its repeal.

But whether or not it’s repealed, we’ll still have a health cost crisis and must implement sensible solutions to control costs, improve quality and increase coverage — not just claim to.

The chamber has long advocated market-based solutions that we know will help accomplish this. We can drive down costs through private-sector solutions and competition that enable consumers to choose the coverage they want and where providers are rewarded based on quality of care — not merely the quantity of services rendered. The government should not dictate what the coverage must be and how costs are set. Instead, businesses must continue to freely negotiate with health insurers.

Medical liability reform and efforts to stanch defensive medicine also would drive down costs. And widespread adoption of health information technology — including electronic prescriptions and medical records — could further improve quality, lower costs and reduce medical errors.

All told, these and other reasonable reforms would strengthen consumer choice, increase competition and make health care more affordable.

We’ve heard the promises. Now it’s time to turn to a proof-positive approach for reform — a thriving, competitive marketplace that can finally put some downward pressure on rising costs.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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